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Kass: Merger Murmurs

Today's action hasn't stanched the flow of merger talk. Plus, 10 signs of a top.

This column by Doug Kass was originally published on Feb. 20 at 7:52 a.m. EST on Street Insight. It's being republished as a bonus for and readers. For more information about subscribing to Street Insight, please click here .

Back in early February, I wrote

Ten Rumors that Could Rock Stocks, in which I suggested that a number of merger deals were imminent.

Among those that I mentioned were



, which was acquired a week later by India's Hindalco Industries, and a

Sirius Satellite

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XM Satellite Radio


merger. On Monday, the companies announced their intention to merge.

Over the weekend, I heard (from multiple sources) about two additional rumors of blockbuster deals, one in health care and one in finance:

1. In health care, I am hearing of a deal for provider




2. In finance, I am hearing of a deal for credit card purveyor

Capital One

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What's in your wallet (portfolio)?

Signs of a Market Top

Here's an interesting factoid: The percentage of issues in the

S&P 500

above their 200-day moving average is at the highest level since March 2004. This leads me into this homage to David Letterman, as I offer you my "Top 10 Signs the Market Has Topped."


. I have gained 19 pounds since September, and on Friday, I sold my personal portfolio of blue chips and bought potato chips. (I was at a Democratic fund-raiser in New York City last week, and I saw Al Gore, but I didn't recognize him. I asked my friend, "Who is that skinny guy?")


. My best friend, Dean the Dream, will no longer open the emails that contain my daily opening missives on The Edge; they get him too depressed. (The only person who is responding to my instant messages these days is Fred Hickey, the High-Tech Strategist.)

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. To help with my nervous sweating during market hours, I now wrap myself in Bounty paper towels.


. I have been called almost daily by

Bloomberg TV



to represent the bear case. The segment bookers have explained to me that there are no bears left to interview.


. After lecturing in his graduate school business class at Yale University in January, even permabear Dr. Robert Shiller told me I am too bearish on housing.


. When I request to borrow stocks (to short) from my prime broker,

Bank of America

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, I have begun to hope the borrow will be denied.


. I get irate when I listen to the bullish (and seemingly glib) case for equities made daily in the media. (Worse yet, the bulls are starting to make sense to me.)


. I have finally run out of cheap tequila in my bar, which I drink most evenings on the cold linoleum floor, so in order to reduce my level of anxiety, I have doubled my daily Zoloft intake.


. My 14-year-old niece, Natalie, asked me at my birthday party last Sunday: "Uncle Dougie, why don't you ever


stocks; it's dumb not to, isn't it?"


. Last week I ordered three "Mad Money" Jim Cramer talking bobble heads from NBC's Universal Store online, but they couldn't be sent out, as they have been backordered for three months.

At time of publication, Kass and/or his funds had no positions in stocks mentioned, although holdings can change at any time.

Doug Kass is founder and president of Seabreeze Partners Management, Inc., and the general partner and investment manager of Seabreeze Partners Short LP and Seabreeze Partners Short Offshore Fund, Ltd. Until 1996, he was senior portfolio manager at Omega Advisors, a $4 billion investment partnership. Before that he was executive senior vice president and director of institutional equities of First Albany Corporation and JW Charles/CSG. He also was a General Partner of Glickenhaus & Co., and held various positions with Putnam Management and Kidder, Peabody. Kass received his bachelor's from Alfred University, and received a master's of business administration in finance from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1972. He co-authored "Citibank: The Ralph Nader Report" with Nader and the Center for the Study of Responsive Law and currently serves as a guest host on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

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